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Officials: No Intention of Lowering Pay for Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2003 – Pentagon officials have no intention of lowering total compensation for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Defense Department's top personnel officer said Aug. 14.

David S.C. Chu, defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness, took questions from the media on the topic in response to published media reports suggesting DoD would cut the pay of forces serving overseas in the war on terrorism.

At issue are temporary increases Congress approved in April for two forms of compensation: imminent danger pay and family separation allowance. Imminent danger pay went from $150 per month to $225, while family separation pay increased from $100 to $250 per month. The two increases are set to expire Sept. 30, and defense officials have urged Congress not to extend them, saying they are unfunded.

But, Chu stressed, this doesn't mean troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will see a cut in their total take-home pay. "We are not going to reduce their compensation," Chu said.

Another senior official called the notion that the Pentagon would cut pay to combat troops "absurd."

Instead, the Defense Department would prefer to compensate the troops through other means. "We have some incentive pay with which we can compensate people in Iraq (and Afghanistan) should the current allowance provisions expire," Chu said. Among these are hardship duty pay and incentive pay, he added.

Officials haven't worked out all the details yet, at least in part because Congress may still approve extending the increases in those two allowances, which the department would then have to find a way to pay for, Chu said.

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